Friday, August 15, 2008

Tropic Thunder & Stiller Stuff

So I saw Tropic Thunder last night.

I was a bit wary of going to see it, as it was directed, starred and partially written by Ben Stiller. That alone had gotten me scared, and the trailers were somewhat meh-ish. I was hoping to hear some good reviews from fellow movie going friends, but an urge to finally socialize had caused me to catch a 10:50 showing last night.

And you know what? This movie was much better than I thought it would be. Was it funny? Yes. Was it predictable? Somewhat. Just when I think I predicted when something would happen: BAM! Curve ball. But the ending I mostly saw coming, but still humorous.

Some of my friends wanted to see it mainly to see if Robert Downey Jr.'s recent string of awesomeness would continue. I shall let them know that, yes, he's one of the best parts of the movie. Sadly, most of his great lines were said in the trailers, but there are quite a few sequences where he kicks some major ass, along with seeing the trailer lines in their proper context.

Another great moment comes at the very beginning with a few fake movie trailers introducing the characters that you could almost swear that they were real. Seriously, the only reason that everyone realized that they were fake was because they were actually better than the 15 minutes of real trailers that came before the movie.

That's not to say that everyone else was bad. We also have Jack Black as Jeff Portnoy, a parody of Mike Meyers & Eddie Murphy who stars in similar movies where he plays every character, and they all fart. Yes, but he does get a few great moments in the movie, such as killing a bat for stealing his "Jelly Beans," an obligatory sequence in action/comedy movies where the fat character always freaks out, and a line during a war film-like slow motion sequence got one of the biggest laughs in the entire movie.

As the movie is a jab at Hollywood, expect several cameos from various celebrities that last about 30 seconds. There's no Chuck Norris cameo like in "Dodgeball," but a few of them are quite funny.

I also couldn't believe that there was such a firestorm over the running theme of making fun of the retarded. Before I saw the film, I thought that these people had become outraged over nothing (mostly over the funny "Full Retard" dialogue between Stiller & Robert Downey Jr.), but then after watching...there's a LOT more of it than that one dialogue. Then there's the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is essentially in black face for 99% of the movie, but I've yet to read about outcries over that. I must say that it was all funny, and if it's a crime to laugh at things that a "Politically Incorrect," then by all means arrest, jail, and execute me. These people should just lighten up. It's a movie. With Ben Stiller. That alone should say "Hey, don't get mad over some dumb crap!"

And then there's Ben Stiller. Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben. You surprised me, you were actually somewhat funny in this movie. Sure, Robert Downey Jr. outshines you both in character and as an actor in general, but you were enjoyable. I always believed that you always did better in ensemble casts, and this movie was no different. Actually, it kind of was, as you were actually not the weakest link. I actually cared about you, hoped that something good was going to happen to you, wondering what was going to come next.

Rarely have there been movies of yours where I actually felt that. This may have been the first one. To anyone who hasn't seen it: Don't watch Duplex. Ever. Ask for the $10 back that you would have spent on that movie that you should never see.

Here are a few Ben Stiller movies that I did like:

Zoolander. Actually funny, and even his partner Owen Wilson is okay. I still can't forget Will Ferrell as Mugatu. Sadly, I still think that this movie set off that slippery slope of other movies making incredibly stupid careers/sports funny, like "Blades of Glory," "Balls of Fury," "Talladega Nights," and this one:

Dodgeball. I liked Stiller as the villain. He's just the kind of person that you just want to see fail, and he delivers. "Fuckin' Chuck Norris!"

Mystery Men. Like I've said before, he does well in ensemble casts, and he did pretty well. Then again, I love superhero movies, especially out-there ones like this flick.

The Royal Tenenbaums. Not as much of a Ben Stiller movie as it is a movie that Ben Stiller happens to have a supporting role in. Of course, it IS a Wes Anderson movie that also stars Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover. As such, he does a pretty good job, as does Stiller cohort Owen Wilson. Then again, Wes Anderson launched Owen's career, so it was expected that he showed up.

And that's all of them. Just these 5. If anyone else endured other Stiller movies, I feel your pain.

For Tropic Thunder, I rate it a B. I almost rated it B-, but then I realized that I thought of this at 1 in the morning, instead of now where I'm fully awake and rational.


dc said...

I'm actually one of those rare people that likes Ben Stiller and still finds him funny. However, with that being said, I know a few of his last flicks haven't been great.

I was actually on the fence with this movie and had only heard about retard-gate. But, having read your review it sounds like it may not be that bad after all.

Dan said...

I'm kind of wishing now that I had watched this instead of The Clone Wars. Thanks for the review!